sat 20/07/2024

DVD: A Thousand Times Good Night | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: A Thousand Times Good Night

DVD: A Thousand Times Good Night

Juliette Binoche oustanding as a war photographer divided between home and away

Rare moment of reconciliation: Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) with wife Rebecca (Juliette Binoche)

There’s war in the world outside and much conflict at home in Norwegian director Eric Poppe’s A Thousand Times Good Night. The film is centred in every sense around the poised, taut performance of Juliette Binoche as war photographer Rebecca, whom we first encounter at work in Afghanistan, as she follows the detailed preparations of a female suicide-bomber being prepared for martyrdom.

The opening minutes are extremely gripping cinema, quietly understated but no less powerful for that, and raise the question of whether Binoche’s character has stepped over a professional line.

But it’s the personal line she has to negotiate when she returns from hospital recuperation after injuries to her family life in Ireland. She’s brought home by husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who’s hidden his fears about the daily risks of her job until her injury, while the associated stresses are playing out, in different ways, with their two daughters. Rebecca has to decide her future life, with the strongly felt calls of her work balanced against feelings for her family. Her initial decision comes down for the latter, but if there wasn’t a tension, then there wouldn't be a second half to the film.

The strength of Binoche’s performance keeps us gripped

Screenwriter Harald Rosenløw Eeg does capture that balance powerfully and sympathetically, though somewhere in the middle acts the drama goes a bit softer, not unlike the luscious Irish countryside in which much of it is shot. But the strength of Binoche’s performance keeps us gripped. Supporting cast performances are excellent, while the production style makes its points through underplaying, rather than over-dramatizing the issues involved.

No extras on this DVD release, which is a shame because hearing the hindsight reflections of director Poppe, himself a former war correspondent, as well as the thoughts of Binoche and others involved, would be more than interesting. A Thousand Times… does get the details of this profession right, with that perpetual doubt as to whether those who go into such extreme situations are doing it because “the world needs it” or for their own sense of “excitement and danger”. It’s a question to which the director offers no final answer. Instead, it’s more than worth going back to the eloquent documentary made about veteran photo-journalist Don McCullin, who survived the many conflicts that he covered. Or to the film devoted to the memory of another intrepid reporter, Tim Hetherington of Restrepo fame, who tragically didn’t.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for A Thousand Times Good Night

That perpetual doubt as to whether those who go into extreme situations are doing it because 'the world needs it' or for their own sense of 'excitement and danger'


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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